November 4, 2003
Interior Secretary Gale Norton today commended the Army Corps of Engineers for issuing programmatic regulations to implement the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, laying a strong legal foundation to ensure the ecological restoration of the Everglades in South Florida.
"Developed through a thorough and cooperative process involving all the stakeholders in South Florida, these final regulations are a significant and lasting step towards a restored Everglades," Norton said. "Along with the binding assurances agreement signed last year by President Bush and Governor Bush, the regulations provide certainty we will 'get the water right' for both the Everglades and the people of South Florida."
“I appreciate the tremendous efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers to balance the necessary requirements and to include the department, the state, the tribes and the public in developing these regulations," she said.
The Interior Department believes that the regulations wholly reflect the congressional intent of Water Resources Development Act of 2000, which requires the Corps to work with the department and stakeholders to restore, preserve and protect the South Florida ecosystem while providing for other water related needs of the region.
Since the initial draft regulations were released in 2001, Interior staff has worked closely with the Corps, the state, the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes and other stakeholders to improve the regulations. Congress required the department and the state of Florida to concur on the final regulations before they could be issued.
Of particular note, the programmatic regulations contain a strong framework requiring the corps, the department and the state to jointly develop interim goals next year, Norton said.
“This process will ensure the interim goals are based on sound science with input from stakeholders and the public,” she said.
In addition, Interior must concur in the development of the pre-CERP baseline, which will describe the hydrologic conditions in the South Florida ecosystem that existed on the date of enactment of WRDA and will be the basis for calculating future project benefits.
Interior also will work closely with the Corps and state agencies to develop and concur on additional technical guidance memoranda that will, among other things, set forth the process to be used to quantify the amount of water needed to restore the Everglades natural system.
Interior agencies also are included early in the planning process and are part of the leadership of RECOVER, which is the interagency scientific and technical team that is integral to the adaptive management approach to implement CERP.
“We believe this new process will allow the best available science to be used in developing the interim goals,” said Jay Slack, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services South Florida Ecological Service’s office. “Members of my staff are co-leads of the effort within RECOVER to develop recommendations for interim goals.”
"We are pleased to lend our scientific expertise and participate in the process that will develop the procedures to identify the appropriate quality, quantity, timing and distribution of water for the restoration of Everglades National Park and other natural system lands in South Florida," said John Benjamin, acting superintendent of Everglades National Park.
Programmatic Regulations Questions and Answers
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